Wilt Chamberlain: The NBA's Indomitable Force
NEW YORK (Nov. 27, 1963) – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, and players such as Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan who sit right behind Abdul-Jabbar, were explosive scoring machines.
But there was no one more dominant in the offensive end during his prime than the incomparable giant, Wilt Chamberlain. During his time in the NBA with the Warriors, 76ers and Lakers, Chamberlain – who ranks fifth in scoring, mainly because he played hundreds fewer games than the top four – did things that no NBA player ever has, before or since.
The Big Dipper led the NBA in scoring seven times, and in 1961-62, he averaged 50.4 points per game, topped, of course, by his 100-point game against the New York Knicks in March 1962, a record that will likely never be broken.
Chamberlain recorded countless NBA firsts, and one of the most impressive, one feat that clearly showed how unstoppable a scoring force he was, came on the night of Nov. 27, 1963, when he set an NBA single-game record with 18 consecutive made field goals in scoring 38 points during a 118-99 victory over the Knicks.
The previous season had been a tough one for Chamberlain as the Warriors moved from Philadelphia to San Francisco, and after finishing 49-31 and taking the Boston Celtics to Game 7 in the 1962 Eastern Conference finals, the Warriors slid to 31-49 in their first season in the Bay Area, 22 games behind the Western champion Lakers.
Chamberlain – who scored at least 50 points in 118 games during his career, 45 coming in that historic 1961-62 season – still averaged 44.8 points per game in 1962-63, but he admitted it, “was the most miserable season I ever experienced. Sure, I got a lot of points, but we didn’t win many games.”
In year two in San Francisco, things improved greatly as the Warriors finished 48-32, and beat St. Louis in a thrilling seven-game Western Division series before losing to Chamberlain’s arch nemesis, Bill Russell and the Celtics in the NBA Finals.
Chamberlain’s marksmanship rose to another standard four years later when, in a span of two months early in 1967, he did something three times that no one had done even once in games where a player attempted at least 15 shots. He made every one he put up. He was 15-for-15 against the Lakers on Jan. 20, 18-for-18 against the Bullets on Feb. 24, and then torched the Bullets again with a 16-for-16 on March 19.
That season, he shot an NBA best 68.3 percent, though it was only his second-best season-long performance – in his final year, 1972-73, he set the all-time NBA mark with a 72.7 success rate, another mark that may never be broken.